Seizures are uncontrolled spasms or convulsions. Most often, seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in your brain — these are called epileptic seizures.
Call 911 or seek emergency medical help for seizures if:
- A seizure lasts more than five minutes
- Someone experiences a seizure for the first time
- Person remains unconsciousness after a seizure ends
- Person sustains an injury or experiences other serious symptoms, such as trouble breathing
- Multiple seizures occur close together
Dignity Health provides emergency services for many unexpected conditions, including seizures, in Central California. Come to one of our ERs for personal care.
Common Seizure Symptoms
The symptoms you feel depend on the type of seizure you experience. The three most common types of seizures are partial, petit mal, and grand mal (also called generalized tonic-clonic).
- Partial seizures affect only a small part of the brain. Symptoms can include abnormal sensations, hallucinations, and muscle contractions.
- Petit mal seizures may cause only minor symptoms, such as brief episodes of staring and unresponsiveness.
- Grand mal seizures affect all parts of the brain. These episodes are characterized by spasms of the entire body and the complete loss of consciousness.
After a seizure, you may notice changes in mood and behavior, weakness, and fatigue.
What Causes Seizures?
Seizures can be caused by brain trauma or any condition that disrupts normal electrical activity. Possible causes of seizures include:
- Brain or head injury
- Infection of the brain or surrounding tissue
- Poisoning, such as carbon monoxide
- Brain tumor
- Genetic disorders and brain abnormalities
- Abnormal blood sugar or electrolytes
- Drug or alcohol abuse and withdrawal
- Medication side effects
If you experience repeated seizures, they may be a sign of epilepsy.
Treating Seizures at Dignity Health Central California
A person experiencing a seizure may be unaware of what is happening. Do your best to help the person avoid injury. When the seizure stops, explain what happened in a calm voice.
If you need emergency care for a seizure, your ER doctor may give you antiseizure medication. After the seizure, tell your doctor about any triggers or symptoms and your medical history. You may also need to undergo a series of tests:
- A neurological exam can help determine the cause of a seizure and any affected brain functions.
- EEG (electroencephalography) records brain activity. An EEG device may need to be worn for several days to catch abnormal electrical activity.
- Brain scans can identify the conditions and the areas of the brain that cause seizures.
If you are diagnosed with recurrent epileptic seizures, your Dignity Health Central California doctor will prescribe medication to prevent or reduce the occurrence of your seizures. Severe cases sometimes require surgery or electrical stimulation. Finding and treating the underlying cause can also stop seizures.
If you need ongoing care for seizures, use our Find a Doctor tool to choose a neurologist close to you.
Dignity Health Central California is here for you during emergencies, such as seizures, in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.